“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out…” Verse 20 (NIV)
I remember well my first congregation. I was young and allowed first impressions to guide my assessment of the people in the chairs. It did not take too long to learn that church people were just like any other everyday people – except they were forgiven, and Jesus lived with and in them.
It was not long before the real stories behind the smiles began to appear. Adoptive parents that watched as their adopted daughter broke every boundary and pushed back at the love she had received from this couple. Hearts were breaking and yet there they were each Sunday sitting in the congregation. A couple, young in their faith and working through all of the implications of a history they shared that was less than beautiful. Secretly there was talk of separation. There they were in the same seats each Sunday morning. A well-established family suddenly shocked by the disclosure of a gay lifestyle from one of their children. They were there sitting in the chairs on Sunday morning with their heads hung very low and not knowing what to do next. A man in his twilight years wondering what was wrong with his Christian walk. Was it doubt? Was it fear? He just could not find a hook to hold onto, but he was at church service every Sunday morning.
When I first became a believer, I thought that there were two kinds of people: normal ones and messed up ones – bruised reeds. It did not take too long to understand that there are no “normal people” as I described them but that most people have some kind of hurt in their history.
The church is a community of bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. Often there are folks in churches who pretend to “have it all together,” but no one’s life is free of trouble and struggle. Thanks be to God that he is not looking for perfect saints but for forgiven and humble saints. I pray often that the church will become a healing centre for bruised reeds and not the place of pointing out our failures, so we feel useless and unworthy. In reality, we are all unworthy, but praise God that he does not break broken reeds or snuff out smoldering wicks.
Jesus forgives, heals, encourages, and supports bruised reeds and smoldering wicks. Thank you, Jesus.
Lord, we are bruised reeds, smoldering wicks. Thank you for tending us with your care and grace. Amen.